A rollicking biography of a pioneering American woman and one of our greatest culinary figures
In Hometown Appetites, Kelly Alexander and Cynthia Harris come together to revive the legacy of the most important food writer you have never heard of. Clementine Paddleford was a Kansas farm girl who grew up to chronicle America's culinary habits. Her weekly readership at the New York Herald Tribune topped 12 million during the 1950s and 1960s and she earned a salary of $250,000. Yet twenty years after "America's best-known food editor" passed away, she had been forgotten--until now.
Before Paddleford, newspaper food sections were dull primers on home economy. But she changed all of that, composing her own brand of sassy, unerringly authoritative prose designed to celebrate regional home cooking. This book restores Paddleford's name where it belongs: in the pantheon alongside greats like James Beard and Julia Child.
At long last, an enthusiastic, significant rehabilitation of Paddleford's career as food writer from 1936 to 1966 at the New York Herald Tribune. Alexander, whose article on Paddleford for Saveur won the James Beard Journalism Award in 2002, and Harris, the archivist at Kansas State Univ., to which native Paddleford left her papers, happily resurrect Paddleford's work. An indefatigable journalist, Paddleford broke with the staid home-economics primers of the era. With humble Midwest beginnings and a degree in industrial journalism, Paddleford set out for New York City to make a name for herself, and found that her energy and sheer prodigiousness opened doors at popular publications like Farm & Fireside, Christian Herald and This Week, the Tribune's Sunday magazine. Influenced by the peripatetic culinary adventures of salesman Duncan Hines, Paddleford launched, in 1948, a series of columns in This Week called "How America Eats," spotlighting regional cooks and their down-home specialties. With her trademark florid prose and historic touches, Paddleford became widely known, and her subsequent book, How America Eats (1960), became a bestseller. The authors make an upbeat case for reconsidering Paddleford's achievement in this enjoyable read, and include a slew of her comfort recipes.